Texas Senator Ted Cruz has attempted to defend taking a family trip to Mexico amid a winter storm that left millions in his state without power and water.
Mr Cruz said on Thursday he planned the holiday for his daughters, “wanting to be a good dad”, but had returned because it “didn’t feel right”.
Photos of the Republican lawmaker at an airport on Wednesday fuelled outrage at how he had left Texas during a crisis.
Millions of people in Texas face water shortages, with reservoirs near empty.
Freezing temperatures have caused power blackouts at water treatment facilities and burst water pipes supplying homes, despite attempts by some homeowners to insulate them from the cold using blankets.
About 13 million Texans have been told to boil water that may be contaminated.
Mr Cruz, a high-profile Republican who ran for the US presidency in 2016, has not only drawn criticism for taking the international trip, but also for reportedly leaving his dog, Snowflake, behind.
A New York Magazine reporter tweeted an image early on Thursday that appeared to show the senator’s home, with Snowflake visible through the glass of the front door.
Just to clarify, this was taken around 1pm central on Thursday. It’s possible Ted brought the poodle back from Cancun with him, or that a family member was staying behind to take care of the dog.
— Michael Hardy (@mkerrhardy) February 18, 2021
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